I am honored and humbled to accept the nomination as President-elect of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Since 1979, the Academy has been the foundation of my professional development through its annual meeting, journal, educational programs and advocacy leadership as the voice of ophthalmology in our quest to fulfill our mission of Protecting Sight and Empowering Lives.
The future of ophthalmology has never been more promising or challenging. The promise is evident in the continuing therapeutic advances for blinding disease across the entire ophthalmic spectrum. These therapies are testimony to the innovation and dedication of our colleagues throughout the world. Driven by an increasing comprehension of the molecular and genetic mechanisms of ocular disease, we continue on a journey with present and future treatments that will prevent visual disability for millions of people. The implications for our patients and profession are staggering. Despite this success, so much more needs to be accomplished to further lift the burden of vision loss.
Unfortunately, there are significant challenges to our nascent therapeutic wonderland. Not surprisingly, the question is whether we will have the financial resources to provide both today’s and tomorrow’s treatments. As health care consumes an increasing proportion of our economy, there is consensus that new models of health care delivery are required for a transition to value-based care. While everyone agrees with this principle, the devil is in the details. This transition will be difficult and demanding as evidenced by the Quality Payment Program of Medicare and the growing hassles of high deductible insurance coverage, preauthorization, step therapy and limited networks. At times, it will be frustrating and maddening. Despite these obstacles, it is our responsibility to our patients and our profession to demonstrate the incredible value of ophthalmic care.
Over the past four years as Secretary for Federal Affairs, I have marveled at the insight, knowledge and vision of the Academy’s advocacy team consisting of the Health Policy Committee and our amazing San Francisco and Washington DC staff. This team has supported our Board of Trustees in the creation of visionary programs such as the IRIS® Registry and to continue our emphasis on patient-centered advocacy. This emphasis on what is best for patients is the source of our credibility, access to key government decision makers and success in the health policy arena. It must always remain our primary focus.
Our immediate challenges are many. Perhaps the most pressing is the increasing regulatory burden that wastes the precious resources of physician time and money without improving care or providing that elusive value. Other challenges include access to new therapies and fair reimbursement that accounts for the increasing costs associated with state-of-the-art ophthalmic care. With each of these challenges again comes the opportunity to demonstrate our value in protecting sight and empowering lives. If elected, I promise to work with all Academy members to do all that I can to further our unique and special mission.